Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note:This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
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Democrats are starting to worry that President Obama’s “charge-and-spend” debt, new “cap-and-trade” tax and “apologize to the world” agendas are going to hurt them when they run for re-election, leaving the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index ticking up to 53.2 on a 100-point scale, despite a month of relatively few major controversies.
“What I think is going on here is that Democrats are growing slightly more concerned that the Democratic initiatives in Washington may come with a steep political price tag outside the beltway,” said Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.
“This is especially true after the Democratic election losses in deep blue New Jersey and in swing state Virginia,” he continued.
“Those losses in the gubernatorial races represent a shocking reversal from 12 months ago, when Obama easily won both states in the presidential race, and discontent over Democratic efforts in Washington clearly played a part,” he said.
“The other major factor, I think, was the terrible economy, and voters clearly deciding it made sense to blame the Democrats for not fixing things.”
The monthly freedom index for November was only 53.2, up just a fraction from last month’s 52.2, the lowest figure ever for the measurement. The index is an assessment of how Americans feel about a basketful of liberties.
The index was 57.6 in June, 53.2 in July, 54.2 in August and 56.4 in September before plunging in October.
Among the issues in Washington now are the Democrats’ plan to increase the government’s role in health care, “cap-and-trade” taxes on energy use and Obama’s repeated apologies to the world for the United States. The president stirred controversy over the weekend when he bowed to the Japanese emperor, as he bowed to the Saudi king in April.
The poll was conducted Nov. 13-16 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 29 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 806 adult respondents and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Wenzel’s analysis showed that after a month in which Democrats and Republicans were split widely over several issues, including health care, members of both parties seemed to moderate their positions slightly.
“After a month in which the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index took one of its biggest one-month drops, it rebounds slightly and now stands at 53.2 on a 100–point scale. It remains four and a half points below its standing in the inaugural Index survey taken in June 2009,” the report said.
The report showed Democrats “made more significant moves to positions that reflected more skepticism about the freedoms Americans enjoy. For instance, while 46 percent said last month that they believed freedoms had increased greatly under President Obama, just 39 percent said the same this month.”
“And, while 61 percent of Democrats said last month that they felt there was a great deal of freedom for Americans to choose a form of religious worship without fear of penalty or retribution, just 47 percent said the same thing this month.”
The index is based on a repeating series of 10 questions that measure aspects of freedom, including freedom of speech, religion, assembly and association.
“There is no question that this has been a tumultuous year for the relationship between the U.S. government and its citizens, but it hit something of a comparative calm spot during the last month, as there were really only two flash points that would have been on the minds of likely voters nationwide as they participated in this survey: the U.S. House of Representatives passage of a massive overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, and the horrendous shootings at Fort Hood in Texas,” said Wenzel.
“You know it is a remarkable political year when you can say that a month with such events represents a calm spot, but I think that is true. The Freedom Index bumped up slightly this month, which is a mild movement and reflects the relative calm across the country. In this same survey, President Obama’s job approval rating remained the same as last month’s rating – at 44 percent positive.”
But he said the results make it clear “the economy may be masking some alarm over the details lurking inside the health-care bill and a proposed energy bill known as ‘cap-and-trade’ that threatens to seriously impact many freedoms Americans now exercise.”
“Should that bill resurface next year as expected, look for this index to plummet,” he warned.
He said while other Wenzel Strategies polling reveals a deep concern about health-care rationing, “for now, Americans are concerned most about the economy, and will render their judgments on these other initiatives once they learn more about them.”
“Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have done an effective job at masking important details of the health reform measure,” he reported. “Those details will eventually come out, probably sometime next year if the bill manages to become law. If they are as poorly received as one might expect, look for Republicans to clean up at the ballot box next fall.”
On the issue of increasing or decreasing personal freedoms under the Obama administration, those who have perceived a big decrease outnumbered those who have perceived a big increase 269-164. Among Republicans, the margin was 153-13 and among Democrats it was 36-115. Significantly, among independents, only 36 perceived a big increase in liberties while 80 felt the opposite.
Regarding an ability to associate with anyone, nearly 17 percent of Americans said they now have great fear, about the same percentage who have no fear.
More than 12 percent of the population fears punishment or penalty for the way they choose to worship, and one person in three considers the government “very intrusive” in its use of technology to monitor people.
Among independents, more than 15 percent said they often censor their own thoughts or statements on subjects because of fear of harm or punishment, even higher than the 13 percent among Republicans.